Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said an emerging Russian-led economic bloc in the former Soviet Union, the Eurasian Union, will help reduce global imbalances and fuel integration across “Greater Europe.”
The common economic space being formed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus on Jan. 1 will unite 165 million consumers, capable of becoming a global economic hub that links Europe and Asia, Putin wrote in an article published in the Izvestiya newspaper today and distributed by his press office.
Other former Soviet states are encouraged to join the bloc, said Putin, who dismissed Ukraine’s concerns that this will hinder its efforts to join the European Union. The three nations on July 1 formed a customs union and next year will take a further step toward integration by merging into a single economic space modeled on the EU.
Putin, 58, announced on Sept. 24 that he plans to return to the Kremlin next May by swapping jobs with his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, potentially giving him another 12 years in power. The Russian leader, a former officer in the KGB, has called the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.
The Eurasian grouping will become an “indivisible part of the Greater Europe, founded on common values of freedom, democracy and market principles,” Putin said.
“An economically sound and balanced partnership between the Eurasian Union and EU can change the geopolitical and geo- economic situation of the entire continent and have a positive impact globally,” he wrote.
Putin today urged the member countries to target “tighter coordination of economic and currency policies to create a full- fledged economic union.”
“We have a great inheritance from the Soviet Union -- infrastructure, industrial specialization, a common language and cultural and scientific space,” Putin wrote. “It’s in our joint interests to use this resource for our development.”
Citizens will be free to live and work anywhere in the bloc and businesses will be able to register and base themselves in any of the three countries, he wrote. The union also will have a unified visa and migration policy.
“It took the Europeans 40 years to get from the European coal and steel community to the fully fledged European Union,” said Putin. “The formation of the Unified Economic Space and Customs Union is proceeding much more dynamically because it is learning from the experience of the EU and other regional organizations.”
--Editors: Paul Abelsky, Andrew Langley
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